Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats 25 years ago today: Dickerson awakes from slump to subdue Wazzu

EDITOR NOTE: is running a feature this basketball season highlighting what happened 25 years ago on that particular day commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Arizona Wildcats’ national championship. The next in the series is what occurred and what was written concerning the developments of Jan. 30, 1997, when Arizona beat Washington State 87-78 at Pullman, Wash. The information gathered is through articles written by beat reporters Steve Rivera (Tucson Citizen) and Javier Morales (Arizona Daily Star), who now are writing for

You can access previous stories in this series by clicking on this link.

DATELINE: Jan. 30, 1997, Pullman, Wash.

Michael Dickerson, Arizona’s bobbing cork, has resurfaced.

And in his backyard, no less.

“He took the shot he should have. He was under control. He made some good passes out of the penetration,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said, raving about his junior from Seattle. “Defensively, he’s working hard. It’s good to see because it helps confidence-wise. He let the game come to him. That’s what’s so critical.

“This is the best he’s played all year. It’s great to see how well he’s playing.”

Dickerson’s resurgence was good timing for No. 10 UA and bad timing for Washington State. Dickerson’s 28 points — the most since his 32-point performance 19 days ago — helped UA beat WSU, 87-78, here tonight at Friel Court. It was Arizona’s 23rd straight win against the Cougars.

It was also the first time in five games that Dickerson had shot better than 50 percent from the floor. He went 11 for 20 tonight (55 percent).

“I took some good open shots, taking what they gave me,” Dickerson said. “I was just in a slump. Everybody goes into slumps. I was one of them. I just wasn’t shooting hot and I’m still not shooting to my potential. But it was good enough and impressive enough.”

“I thought Dickerson did a good job working off the dribble,” said Fox Television Network analyst George Raveling, a former WSU head coach. “This is as good as I’ve ever seen him play off the dribble.”

It was the old Michael Dickerson, or at least the one his teammates saw at the beginning of the season when he was averaging 26 points a game.

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“That’s the way he is supposed to play,” UA freshman Mike Bibby said. “I’m not surprised. He can do that all of the time.”

Said Bennett Davison, “The guy can do that kind of thing. He doesn’t have to come out and score 28 every night, although he’d like to come out and do it so he can win the Pac-10 scoring title.”

That’s still up for grabs, but he will have competition from WSU’s Isaac Fontaine, who finished with a game-high 32 points tonight. Fontaine is averaging 21.5 points a game, and Dickerson is averaging 21.4. California’s Ed Gray leads the league at 23.9.

“I think we all know what Michael is capable of doing,” Fontaine said. “He was fifth in the nation in scoring at one point.”

Tonight, he showed why, making tough shots look easy and easy shots look even easier.

“He’s just a great player,” Miles Simon said. “He can just show up and score. But sometimes he’s just going to miss. He can’t be hitting every shot.”

he hadn’t been hitting his shots recently. Going into tonight’s game, he was shooting 30 percent from the field the last four games.

“I think the team had to adjust to the return of Miles Simon (out the first half of the season because of an academic suspension),” Raveling said. “It brought roles into question. Some people may have not been ready for that because it affected the team shot selection.”

— Steve Rivera

Arizona Wildcats 1996-97 Men's Basketball Schedule

11/22/96197 North Carolina

Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic
W 83–72Springfield (MA)
11/26/9611Northern ArizonaW 88–70McKale Center
11/30/961119 New MexicoL 84-77Albuquerque (NM)
12/7/96153 Utah

John Wooden Classic
W 69–61Anaheim (CA)
12/9/961513 TexasW 83–78McKale Center
12/14/968Jackson StateW 111–83McKale Center
12/21/9664 MichiganL 73-71 OTAuburn Hills (MI)
12/28/969Robert Morris

Fiesta Bowl Classic
W 118–54McKale Center

Fiesta Bowl Classic
W 93–51McKale Center
1/2/979CaliforniaW 81-80McKale Center
1/4/97921 StanfordW 76-75McKale Center
1/11/977Arizona StateW 92-84Tempe
1/16/976USCL 75-62Los Angeles
1/18/976UCLAL 84-78 OTLos Angeles
1/23/9711Oregon StateW 99-48McKale Center
1/25/9711OregonW 88-66McKale Center
1/30/9710Washington StateW 87-78Pullman (WA)
2/2/9710Washington L 92-88Seattle
2/5/9714Arizona StateW 87-71McKale Center
2/9/971421 Tulane

7Up Shootout
W 81-62Phoenix
2/13/971124 UCLAL 66-64McKale Center
2/15/9711USCW 101-77McKale Center
2/20/9713OregonL 78-72Eugene (OR)
2/22/9713Oregon StateW 74-64Corvallis (OR)
2/27/9715Washington StateW 100-86McKale Center
3/2/9715WashingtonW 103-82McKale Center
3/6/971223 Stanford L 81-80Palo Alto (CA)
3/8/9712CaliforniaL 79-77San Francisco
3/13/97413 South Alabama

NCAAT 1st Round
W 65-57Memphis
3/15/97412 College of Charleston

NCAAT 2nd Round
W 73-69Memphis
3/21/9741 Kansas

Sweet Sixteen
W 85-82Birmingham (AL)
3/23/97410 Providence

Elite Eight
W 96-92 OTBirmingham (AL)
3/29/9741 North Carolina

Final Four
W 66-58Indianapolis
3/31/9741 Kentucky

W 84-79 OTIndianapolis

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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